The two candidates in the Republican congressional primary in Maine’s 2nd District have sharply different takes on what the United States should do in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Liz Caruso and Bruce Poliquin Submitted photos

Though both contenders said they wish Ukraine well, only one of them supports sending American aid to help Ukrainians defend themselves.

In a recent television interview with News Center Maine’s Pat Callaghan, GOP hopeful Liz Caruso of Caratunk said the United States “can’t be funding” Ukraine’s effort to defend itself.

Pressed by Callaghan about whether Russia presents a threat to democracy and other nations, Caruso said, “I do not believe that, right now, our national security threat is the border of Russia. I believe that our national security threat is our own southern border.”

The other contender in the primary, former U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin of Orrington, who has sought to make the southern border a major issue as well, has a very different take on the dangers posed by Russia.

“I support efforts to allow Ukraine to defend itself,” Poliquin said this week. “Russia is a threat not only to Ukraine but to other democracies, including Sweden and Finland, who have applied for NATO membership.”


Congress has approved more than $54 billion in aid to Ukraine since the Russian invasion three months ago, including $12 billion worth of weapons.

The district’s congressman, two-term Democrat Jared Golden of Lewiston, supported both major aid packages for Ukraine. He will face a challenge in November from whichever Republican wins the June 14 GOP primary.

Tiffany Bond Submitted photo

It appears as well that independent Tiffany Bond of Portland has collected enough signatures to secure a place on the general election ballot, but those signatures have not yet been verified.

On social media, Bond has written in favor of supporting Ukraine. She said Russian President Vladimir Putin “won’t be done with Ukraine until either he is destroyed or they are. The longer it takes us to act accordingly, the more people pay the price for it.”

Poliquin and Caruso expressed sympathy for Ukrainians.

“All of our hearts break for those who have been unjustly killed, injured or displaced by Russia’s aggression in Ukraine,” Poliquin said.


Caruso called it “absolutely tragic what’s happened with Ukraine, and my heart goes out to those people, to the innocent people that are struggling.”

But Caruso alone among the four contenders has said the United States should not send aid.

“We have our own problems in this country that need to be addressed,” she said, including a shortage of infant formula and what she termed “an open border” between the United States and Mexico.

Poliquin said, though, that the country can help Ukraine and deal with border issues.

“Our nation can walk and chew gum at the same time,” said Poliquin, who represented the 2nd District for two terms after winning the office in 2014. He lost to Golden in a close race in 2018.

Poliquin said, “We can secure our southern border while also supporting a democracy against foreign aggression.”


U.S. Rep. Jared Golden

Golden has been a staunch supporter of assistance to Ukraine as it tries to fend off Russian invaders.

He signed a bipartisan letter this spring that said, “Ukrainians on the front lines of the war against Russia are counting on expedient, reliable assistance from the U.S. Indeed, timely delivery of weapons and supplies has been essential for Ukrainian success thus far in the war.”

Poliquin said there should be “strong cost controls on the aid we are sending to ensure it goes for its intended purpose and does not end up in the wrong hands or fall prey to waste, fraud or abuse.”

In addition, he said, “I believe we need to guard against the U.S. directly entering a full war, especially without congressional authority. I do not support American boots on the ground at this time.”

None of the candidates have expressed support for direct American involvement in the war.

The United States and its NATO allies have provided significant intelligence, equipment and training help to Ukraine, but have not played any known direct involvement in the fighting in Ukraine that has killed thousands of people and caused widespread devastation.

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